Dining upgrades for spring semester

by Martha Schick / Beacon Staff • December 4, 2013

Changes will come to the dining hall this spring.
Changes will come to the dining hall this spring.

Sodexo is taking its first renovation steps in the dining hall, the Little Building Convenience Store — better known as the C-Store — and the Max Café, located in Piano Row. The projects will be completed by the end of winter break, according to Steve Canario, Emerson’s director of dining services.

Sodexo is moving the cook-to-order station in the dining hall out of the back corner and closer to the entrance of the food area, which will double its capacity, according to Canario. 

The C-Store will relocate from the far end of the second floor in Little Building to a spot across from the welcome desk on the same floor, which used to be a part of mail services and is now vacant. 

This move will give the store 50 percent more space and allow for new products, including salads, sandwiches, sushi, and a F’Real milkshake machine, like the one in Piano Row’s Max Café, according to Canario. He said the old C-Store area will be used as storage space for the dining hall.

All changes to the dining hall and C-Store are planned to be completed by Jan. 8, according to Canario. He said the changes are occurring now because Sodexo didn’t have time when they were hired in August before school started. 

After the dining hall renovations, students will have more opportunities to choose the ingredients for their pastas and stir-fries, according to Canario, by giving the cook-to-order station more space.

“Generally speaking, the food will be displayed in a much more attractive fashion, and we’ll be cooking in smaller batches with more to order,” he said.

Canario said he does not currently have an estimate on the cost of the renovations.

Justin Ferrullo, a freshman visual and media arts major, said he wonders how good the C-Store’s sushi will be.

“I would question the freshness of the actual fish considering that sushi is typically meant to be eaten within a few days or less of the fish being caught,” said Ferrullo. “Adding preservatives like salt … might seriously detract from the quality of the food, making it unappetizing.”

The Max Café will have pasta and packaged sushi available again, after it was removed from the menu when previous food provider ARAMARK’s contract ended. 

According to Canario, Sodexo takes into account what students want to eat in the C-Store and the Max Café, plus the recommendations of their food provider, J. Polep Full Service Convenience Store Distributor, a national company. He said, for example, Ramen Noodles were added to the C-Store because of student requests, even though it was not on J. Polep’s list. 

According to Canario, when Sodexo was bidding for a contract with Emerson, its proposed changes to the dining facilities were part of the consideration. 

“When the school put the business out to bid, [it] had asked the companies that bid on the account what they would do in the long term and the short term to make the facility look nicer and improve the flow,” Canario said. He said that more space in the dining hall  will allow Sodexo employees to serve students faster.

While freshman visual and media arts major Sean Vaccaro said he appreciated the upcoming options in the C-Store and the Max Café, he said he would have rather seen more changes to the dining hall. 

“I would have liked to see fresher foods in the actual dining hall and maybe more options across all dining [facilities],” he said, as opposed to the added variety in the C-Store and the Max Café. 

Canario said the school is in the early stages of considering more changes to dining services in the future. According to Canario, there are plans for a rebranding of Emerson’s Café by the 2014-2015 school year, although no details have been decided on yet.